Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Alive in 2014

The only thing more crazy futuristic sounding then 2014 is 2015. That’s a big year for sci fi fans, the year Marty McFly went to the 80’s version of the future, hover boards, holographic Jaws, and all. Periodically I’ll wander around a place and just wonder what my eight year old self would make of it. Would anything stick out as ‘futuristic?’ I’m not usually left with much. What is arguably futuristic is hidden, or buried in the hands of pedestrian web-surfers. Sometimes I see a slick Tesla or a sign that would require thirty years of back story to explain, but for the most part our present feels like the present of my youth. Not terribly strange in the aggregate, only remarkable in the details, the little hints of what might be on the way. If you’re concerned about such details you could find plenty of evidence that we’re heading to a catastrophe or that we’re beginning to pull out of a tailspin. It’s all in how you look at things.

Publishing news: 2014 will be memorable to me for two reasons both of them positive. First off, I was able to get five stories published in a variety of markets this year, from the Daily Science Fiction website to anthologies from Mystery and Horror, LLC to The New Accelerator. I’m lucky to have been published and if you took the time to read any of them I want to personally thank you. Seeing work side-by-side with the other speculative fiction, I’m of course humbled. From my admittedly narrow perspective, 2014 was a fantastic year for stories (some of which I mentioned in the previous post) and its staggering the amount of excellent speculative fiction out there. The best I can do is go back to my stories and try to describe this weird world we live in, and hope that parts of it make sense to you.

This year my wife and I took a trip to Europe. We’ve tried to go on one quality vacation every year, someplace that caters to our overlapping interests. Paris and Barcelona were just about the best places I could imagine going to together. The arts and food, the culture and scenery all made for a very special time. Europe continues to have this singular power to attract and awe the visitor and I personally cannot wait to go back.

News in General: We had an election. It did not go well. However, I don’t leave 2014 feeling particularly discouraged. Partly this is because Obama stopped trying to coax the Republican leadership to do the right thing. He just did what he could do. This election had the lowest turn-out since the Great Depression which says something encouraging about 2016. Given a reason to vote, the people concerned with helping others will vote. When asked to support people who do not support progress, most people stayed home.  I suspect that I am not alone in this assessment. And after two years of Congressional mischief contrasted with progressive economic vigor, i think this country will be well-motivated to support the right side. That’s one man’s take. Not a prediction, just a hunch.

In the world generally this was the year of ISIS, Ukraine, Ebola, and numerous disasters technological and environmental. Pretty depressing stuff. Just keep in mind, despite the horrors, we are actually living in a time of increasing PEACE, not warfare. Violence is being deselected as a viable course of action, and when it does occur it is killing fewer people and causing less damage then any time in our collective history. That is a fact. Take the example of Russia as an example. To begin with Putin felt it necessary to cloak his intervention in Crimea in several layers of subterfuge. And with the sanctions and lower gas prices, he is paying a heavy price for his actions. Is this the way aggression can be handled in the future? Possibly. Although, in a country as predicated upon social advancement and material wealth as our own, it’s not hard to observe that the same economic weapons could be turned against us too. Still, better inflation then bombardment, in my view.

A look to the future: There were parts about this year I wish hadn’t happened, but in the end, this was a year where tens of thousands of people in our country, millions around the world, stood up with the courage to point out injustice. I’m of the opinion that more of this needed, not less. We have been sleep-walking through the past decade, accepting military vehicles in suburbs, children second amendmented, and death as an appropriate punishment for selling loosies.  You don’t have to think our society is some cesspool of hatred and corruption in order to work for it to be better. You simply have to wish it to be better. History is a path, not a destination.

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